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St. Mary's - Repairs & Restoration

08 November 1873 - Northampton Mercury

RUSHDEN-Accident—On Monday last, the men employed at the restoration of the parish church in this village were letting down a piece of timber, weighing about ½cwt., it by some means fell a distance of between 30 and 40 feet, striking young man named George Hillson on the side of his head and severe injury to his shoulder. Stimulants were administered and he was assisted home, and medical assistance procured, and he is progressing better than it was at first thought he would. If the timber had struck him on the top instead of the side of the head, in all probability he would have been killed on the spot.

The Rushden Echo, 7th May 1965, transcribed by Jim Hollis

Long task of restoring memorial is over

St. Mary’s Church, Rushden, Pemberton Memorial has been completely restored, at a cost of about £450.

The work has been carried out over the past 12 weeks by Miss I. Norholt, and was sponsored by Mr. George Denton, the Rushden boot and shoe manufacturer.

Miss Norholt, who lives in St. John’s Wood, London, comes from Copenhagen. She specialises in restoration work of the type carried out at Rushden.

She told us that by far the longest part of her work had been the cleaning of the Jacobean memorial, which is made of alabaster. She explained that at the time only five colours were used for this kind of work and could be seen before she started work. She was able to restore the memorial to its original colours by finding scraps of old paintwork in places like the inside of an ear.

During the twelve weeks she was working on the memorial she replaced 500 broken pieces with plaster, and this included rebuilding a foot, hands and noses.


The memorial was set up in the church to Robert and Mary Pemberton.

Robert was the eldest son of Robert Pemberton, of Pemberton, in Lancashire. He was one of the gentlemen ushers to Queen Elizabeth I. His wife, Mary, was the daughter of Christopher Traughton, of Linford, in Buckinghamshire. She died on July 30, 1608, aged 58, and he died a year later, on April 18, aged 67. They had a family of four boys and four girls.

Already, when the restoration work had been almost completed, Miss Norholt found that children had been playing noughts and crosses on the freshly-cleaned alabaster work.

During her work she found the perfect skeleton of a bat behind one of the central figures.

It is thought that at one time the memorial, which is in the classic tradition of the Italian Renaissance period, collapsed, and that when it was rebuilt certain large pieces of alabaster were not replaced. This would also account for the irregular nature of part of the base on which the central figures are kneeling.

Alabaster Memorial to Sir Goddard Pemberton Inscription on the Sir Goddard Pemberton Memorial Alabaster Memorial to Robert Pemberton
Sir Goddard Pemberton
Sir Goddard Pemberton Inscription
Robert Pemberton

The Evening Telegraph, 19th June 1973, transcribed by Jim Hollis

‘Symptom of a Sick Society’

Vandals have daubed the names of pop stars over the newly restored walls and the main door of Rushden Parish Church.

Police finger print experts are taking tests on an empty paint can that was found at the scene. The three foot high daubing’s read The Stones, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards.

Standing outside the church yesterday the rector of Rushden Michael Wilson, said: “I have no idea who could have done it. It saddens rather than angers me. I think it’s the symptom of a sick society.”

Fortunately the vandals left untouched an original piece of medieval stonework which the newly restored porch had been built around, and the valuable arch at one side of the porch.

At the church was Lt. Col. John Higgins, of T. H. Higgins Ltd., the firm who carried out the restoration. He said: “We can’t take the paint off so we will scrape away the surface of the stone. We are lucky they didn’t touch the original stone in the arch. The people who did this need a good hiding.”

The incident occurs during a week when Mr. Wilson and all the other ministers in the town, are holding a giant “Crusade” campaign aimed at bringing Christ into more people’s lives.

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